Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce 2023 review
Refreshed 276bhp saloon continues to make a strong case for forgoing its established German alternatives
Initially launched in 2016 as Alfa Romeo’s most potent standard model, the Giulia Veloce applies some of the Quadrifoglio’s magic to a more affordable, practical saloon. Over half a decade on, it's received a mid-life update, and while its design and interior tech have been given an overhaul, the mechanicals remain unchanged. With its new £47,759 price tag putting it head-to-head with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz C300 and BMW 330e, has Alfa done enough to help it stand up in 2023?
All UK cars now come with the same 2-litre turbocharged petrol GME T4 four-cylinder, all in an identical state of tune – a diesel is no longer an option. While there are three trim levels (Sprint, Veloce and Competizione), every Giulia sends the same 276bhp and 295lb ft of torque to the rear axle through an 8spd ZF automatic, operated through the same tactile column-mounted paddles found in the Quadrifoglio.
While its closest rivals have turned to hybrid assistance, the Giulia has bucked the industry trend and stuck to combustion power alone. Thanks to this, an aluminium block and thoughtful weight saving measures (it even comes with a 7kg carbonfibre prop shaft to trim 15kg), kerb weight stands at 1429kg (DIN) – a whole 416kg less than the BMW…
The Giulia immediately feels more spritely than its power figures suggest as a result, with its ZF transmission snappy and that peak torque figure served up from 2250rpm. A 5.7sec 0-62mph time and 149mph top speed are near-identical to its rivals, and rarely are you left wanting more from its boosted four-cylinder; it feels genuinely quick. Power-to-weight stands at 193bhp/ton, considerably better than its hybrid BMW and Mercedes rivals at 156bhp/ton and 152bhp/ton respectively. An identical output to the 2016 original might be a head scratcher for power junkies out there, but it’s not an issue in our eyes.
On the move, the benefits of the Giulia’s weight figure and 50:50 weight distribution are clearly felt, inspiring huge confidence with fantastic balance and reassuring feedback through the chassis. While occasionally crashy, its damping is well suited to a spirited drive on some of the UK’s bumpier roads, handling tricky marred surfaces and undulations quickly and without fuss. It’s more softly sprung than some rivals, but the Giulia retains a good level of body control while generating strong traction and a ride suitable for everyday duties.
The brake-by-wire system provides a firm pedal and good consistency at everyday speeds, with Dynamic mode increasing firmness and reducing pedal travel by 15 per cent. While this is a nifty feature that does seem to improve feel, the brakes don’t inspire huge confidence when you pick up the pace on challenging road.
While not as hyperactive as in the Quadrifoglio, the Giulia’s steering is quick, offering plenty of accuracy and off-centre response – there’s little feel, but the way in which the chassis communicates helps make up for some of that lost information. The seating position is good, if a little high, and once in Dynamic mode, the sharpened throttle allows for fantastic mid-corner adjustability that’s lacking in most of its rivals. At low speeds and from a standstill, the gearbox can be a tad clunky, but swift shifts and those tactile paddles help make up for it.
The Veloce trim is expected to be the best seller, and it’s easy to see why. For a £4500 premium over the entry-level Sprint, you get a standard limited-slip differential, striking 19-inch wheels and a whole host of other niceties. Exterior design is familiar, with tasteful changes to the front and rear bumpers, wheel designs and light units setting it apart from previous cars – the Giulia’s new headlight design features three individual elements in reference to Alfa’s models of the past.
Inside it’s a familiar story, with the new 12.3-inch digital dashboard the only notable change. The faux-carbonfibre trim won’t be for some and its German rivals still have the edge in terms of overall build quality, but there are very few hard plastics, with main touchpoints high quality. Although the display is sharper than before, the infotainment system can be slow to respond, and the new digital dash near-impossible to navigate with the bewildering array of steering wheel controls on the move.
We also spent time in the range-topping Competizione, and while most of its underlying hardware is identical to the rest of the range, the fitment of standard adaptive dampers makes it an attractive option. In the default mode, it’s virtually indistinguishable from the Veloce, but enable the soft damper mode and it’s night and day. While there are only standard and soft modes to choose from, the latter has a similar function to Ferrari’s bumpy road mode, taking the edge off harsh surfaces and providing more compliance.
Prices and rivals
Costing from £47,759 in Veloce trim (£43,259 for the Sprint and £52,259 for the range-topping Competizione), the Giulia plugs a gap in the market for a reasonably-priced, entertaining rear-drive saloon. Stump up an additional £10,000 and the likes of the BMW M340i xDrive and Audi S4 come into reach, but if you can do without their headline power figures, you can’t go too far wrong with the Alfa.
Alfa Romeo Giulia (2023) specs
|Engine||Four-cylinder, turbocharged, 2-litre|
|Power||276bhp @ 5250rpm|
|Torque||295lb ft @ 2250rpm|